After enduring attacks from basically everyone with an iota of power in last season’s finale, Tom Kane (Kelsey Grammer) has proven he is still a rather popular target by narrowly dodging (?) a bullet at his groundbreaking ceremony for the O’Hare expansion that was to be a significant part of his mayoral legacy. In the wake of the shooting, Boss takes a step back so that Kane can rebuild his office, and, perhaps scraps of his personal life, too, in ‘Through and Through.’
Boss is that kind of show where the portent of doom hangs over every episode, so much so that it’s expected for any of the characters to have some kind of run in or brush with death. Though one might think that would limit the chances for surprise in the series, it actually works to the show’s advantage by allowing the writers to craft some kind of meaningful story or dialogue around something as tragic as an assassin’s bullet nearly killing the mayor’s wife.
Unlike other programs that rely on characters checking in and out of the hospital and treat life-threatening wounds like they’re no more serious than a particularly bad paper cut, Boss actually succeeds in building some suspense around the chances for Meredith (Connie Nielsen) to recover. This allows for Grammer to stretch Kane’s otherwise pitiless demeanor into something more akin to the man he may have once been.
There was a flash of Kane and Meredith as a more fully functional political power couple in the season premiere, where Meredith stepped in for some last minute seat arrangements that would promote a more harmonic flow amongst those in attendance of the O’Hare expansion groundbreaking. The two spoke in the manner of those who were intimately acquainted, and yet there was little in the way of anger, considering what had recently transpired between them – let alone what had been transpiring for the past few years. It was the kind of comfort one gets over the passage of time that movies and television have told us sometimes happens in arranged marriages. And while Tom and Meredith’s marriage may not have been arranged in the typical sense, it has been intimated that their union was meant more as an investment in their political future than it was stemming from any sense of true love or commitment.
That is why it’s so refreshing to see Kane on the precipice of an uncertainty that has nothing to do with his condition, or his political future and legacy. While Meredith’s life hangs in the balance, so, too, does Kane’s chance at crafting that redemptive ending to his story that has begun to be his driving force. And in his moment of uncertainty, Kane is forced to lean on those he may not have been ready to, after the betrayal he suffered at the hands of Kitty (Kathleen Robertson) and Ezra (Martin Donovan).
Enter Ian Todd (Jonothan Groff), whose teary-eyed exit from the mayor’s office seemed to have doomed him from the permanent position he’d been seeking. But with a renewed sense of purpose after Meredith’s shooting, Ian makes it his number one priority to see that Kane takes him seriously. Beyond helping Kane give Kitty the cold shoulder, Ian orchestrates a brilliant little manipulation of Emma (Hannah Ware) that will get her out of prison and back under the watchful eye of her father – which Ian spins as the best way possible to get revenge on him for throwing her under the bus. This should also be a bright spot in the season, as the possibility of Hannah and Kane under the same roof will likely have all sorts of grand implications, considering the penchant the family shares for prescription drugs and all sorts of illegal dealings.
That’s basically what ‘Through and Through’ is about: Building on the potential for the season 2 storylines. While Meredith is cementing her place as something meaningful in Kane’s life simply through the possibility of her being removed from it, Hannah and Ian are – in their own special way – making themselves readily available for Kane’s inevitable verbal abuse and villainy.
Perhaps most important, however, is the way Kane manages to wrangle Mona Fredricks (Sanaa Lathan) from the lecherous grasp of Alderman Ross (James Vincent Meredith). After suffering a loss at the hands of Kane last season, Ross springs to action once word of Meredith’s shooting presents him with an opportunity for some political grandstanding. Ross also believes this is the time for him to force a vote on the Lennox Gardens initiative. With Kane temporarily out of the picture, how could he possibly lose, right? Unfortunately for Ross, Kane shows up just in time to put the alderman down once more and convince Fredricks if she wants to make a real difference, she’d best partner up with the only guy who has the power to force such change. It doesn’t take long for Fredricks to realize that all she’s really doing is trading one devil for another, but given the amount of time Kane gives her to make the decision, it does feel a little like she just sold her soul.
Though mostly dowsed in melodrama, the episode does have two stand out moments. One where Kane realizes McGantry (Daniel J. Travanti) had weaseled his way into seeing Meredith before he could, and the morphine addled question Meredith asks her husband: Was he responsible for her being shot?
So far, Boss is creating a cohesive season by circling its wagons, but we’ll have to wait and see if a drama that is more unified and intimate comes from such a move.
Boss continues next Friday with ‘Ablution’ @9pm on Starz.